‘Games aren’t won in free agency’: Gannon pushes back on perception of Cards’ moves

Mar 31, 2023, 4:15 PM

Arizona Cardinals head coach Jonathan Gannon speaks with reporters during the annual league meeting...

Arizona Cardinals head coach Jonathan Gannon speaks with reporters during the annual league meetings on Tuesday, March 28, 2023, in Phoenix. (Tyler Drake/Arizona Sports)

(Tyler Drake/Arizona Sports)

PHOENIX — The Arizona Cardinals’ early offseason haul of free agents hasn’t received much fanfare from many who follow the team or those on the outside looking in.

As of Wednesday, the Cardinals’ biggest outside free agent signing is far and away the addition of former Philadelphia Eagles inside linebacker and likely starter Kyzir White.

Arizona did manage to bring back a few important in-house pieces like linemen Kelvin Beachum and Will Hernandez but failed to secure its top two free agents in Zach Allen and Byron Murphy.

The response from around the NFL has been less stellar when it comes Arizona’s moves, with numerous national outlets ranking the Cardinals’ free agency near or at the bottom of the totem pole this offseason.

Then again, the Cardinals are in a vastly different place when it comes to roster construction than some of the other NFL teams making bigger splashes in the free agent department.

“You don’t win any games in free agency. I know that,” Gannon said during the annual league meeting on Tuesday. “I feel really good about the pieces we added. We had a very clear vision of why we added them.

“They know why they’re coming here, which is huge to me. They know their role and what we’re going to ask them to do and how we’re going to ask them to fit in. I’m excited to get to work with those guys.”

It’s clear new general manager Monti Ossenfort and Arizona are working on rebuilding the roster from the ground up.

Instead of handing out lengthy contracts that could muddy up cap space, Ossenfort has instead brought in players on no more than two-year deals as he works to fill out of the depth chart with contracts that won’t come back to bite the team in the future.

And if there’s one thing most all of the signings have in common, it’s their versatility to move across the formation.

“You need that for flexibility within scheme, because we play a lot of different personnel groups and then also … you need a pair and a spare,” Gannon said. “Guys are going to get hurt at some point and you don’t want to be out of a whole position because somebody got hurt or a couple guys got nicked.

“You want guys that you can kind of plug and play. We love versatile players that can play multiple positions, they can think differently and do some different things. Really like where we’re at with that.”

A guy like Hjalte Froholdt fits right in with that thinking.

Among the few that received two-year deals from the Cardinals this offseason, the 6-foot-5, 310-pounder has the ability to move between both center and guard, two positions of need for Arizona currently.

While he was used at both guard spots ahead of this past season, the former Cleveland Brown took on an additional role at center in 2022, seeing 353 snaps at the position. He also turned in 230 at right guard and is familiar with former Browns QBs coach and new Cardinals offensive coordinator Drew Petzing.

Another name that could see some moving around as need warrants is fellow offensive lineman Dennis Daley, who can fill in at guard or tackle.

Daley comes over from the Tennessee Titans looking to bounce back after allowing 12 sacks, nine QB hits and 52 total pressures as the team’s starting left tackle for most of 2022. He was thrown into a tough spot following a season-ending injury to starter Taylor Lewan in Week 2.

“I think he can play tackle and guard. He talked to me about being a little more comfortable playing guard, but he can play it all,” Gannon said of the 6-foot-6, 325-pound Daley. “He’s a big man that can move and he’s a smart guy, so I’m looking forward to seeing what he can do.”

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